Charlie Simms, a leading builder of downtown Dayton housing, said he’s “very bullish on downtown living” because “that’s where the market’s going.”
Other developers agree. They have made downtown a new hot spot for home construction.
Most recently Simms started construction work on a third downtown Dayton housing project and the traditionally suburban homebuilder says he is continuing to look for more sites to build downtown.
City officials and Charles Simms Development celebrated July 24 the groundbreaking for construction of Simms’ latest condominium project, Patterson Place.
The $5 million condo community Patterson Place will consist of 31 townhomes built at the intersection of East First Street and North Patterson Boulevard.
Plans for Patterson Place consist of four buildings built in phases, said Simms, president of Simms Development.
Patterson Place will have three-level townhomes that offer one or two bedrooms and one- or two-car attached garages, Simms said.
Simms bought in July the not-quite one acre of land to build Patterson Place from Litehouse Development Group for $320,000, according to Montgomery County property records.
Originally Dayton city government reached a development agreement in 2008 with Litehouse to build a 42-unit housing project by the end of 2013, said Aaron Sorrell, director of planning and community development for Dayton.
The city donated the land to Litehouse. Litehouse also received federal funds for the project for site remediation, and was supposed to build five of the 42 units as affordable housing units to sell to homebuyers earning less than 80 percent of the median income.
Litehouse completed nine housing units, including one affordable unit. Litehouse also completed the environmental remediation — issues with underground tanks and an unknown foundation were found and addressed, Sorrell said.
On July 10, Dayton City Commission approved to transfer its existing agreement with Litehouse to Simms. City Commission also approved that day a $160,000 federal grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to go to Simms for the project. Simms will be required to build four of the 31 units planned as affordable housing, Sorrell said.
In transferring its development agreement with Litehouse to Simms, city officials absolved Litehouse from paying back a $150,000 low interest loan for the project, he said.
Litehouse’s development was started before the Great Recession and was hurt by plummeting property values during the downturn, said Barry Buckman, owner of Rogero Buckman Architects, one of three companies that formed Litehouse.
“We had started with a product that was really aimed at moderate income and the premise was that we would do a sustainable green building that was highly energy efficient,” Buckman said.
The homes had a high upfront purchase cost in the range of $169,000 to $240,000, but had lower energy costs to live there.
At one point in the recession, there were no comparable sales for new construction, making it difficult to get high enough property appraisals for mortgages to be approved. That made it hard for Litehouse to sell the townhomes at a high enough price. Four deals collapsed because appraisals fell through, Buckman said.
Then Simms’ first downtown housing project, the 18-unit Patterson Square, was built next door to Litehouse at First Street and Patterson Boulevard. Patterson Square received city subsidies allowing the units to be sold at below market rates, further hurting property values at Litehouse, according to Buckman.
Selling the land off was “not what we wanted to do, it’s not what we set out to do, but it was probably the best thing overall,” Buckman said.
Plans for Patterson Place follow the sold-out Patterson Square, a $3 to $4 million project. Patterson Square first opened in 2011.
Simms also finished construction this year on the first seven-unit building of Rubicon Square, an approximately $2 million project consisting of 14 condos in Dayton’s fairgrounds neighborhood near Miami Valley Hospital. Construction site work has started on the second, seven-unit building for the project.
Other downtown housing projects include one by developer Oberer Thompson Co., which is set to open this summer. Eleven of the 17 condos at Sixth Street Lofts on East Sixth Street are under contract or reservation, said Denise Swick, the property’s real estate broker.
“We’re trending more like urban cities where people like to be around urban activities … and have that community feel,” Swick said.
“We’re seeing all across the board into Sixth Street Lofts” from young professionals to older professionals, she said. “People just like being downtown, they like being in an active environment, they like being around other people.”
Meanwhile, two big projects on the drawing board — Student Suites’ 200-unit student housing plan on Ludlow Street that was announced in April; and Lux Lofts, a 110-unit renovation of the David Building at 115 E. Third St. — could be the first rental complexes of more than 100 units to come downtown in a decade.
City government committed $1 million in July to the approximately $22 million Student Suites’ project, which will renovate the former Dayton Daily News building. The city’s investment matches a $1 million pledge from Cox Media Group Ohio, publisher of the newspaper. Plans are to open the student housing by August 2014.
City commission also approved a pre-development agreement July 10 with Columbus-area company Crawford Hoying to build a $36 million mixed residential-office-retail project on a vacant Dayton riverfront property just north of the Dayton Dragons ballpark.
The Phase 1 plan calls for construction of a 50,000-square-foot Class A office building with a restaurant, 161 apartments and a 320-space parking garage north of Monument Avenue and east of Patterson Boulevard.
Staff Writer Jeremy P. Kelley contributed to this report.
Downtown housing developments in the works
1. Patterson Place
North Patterson Boulevard and East First Street
Builder Charlie Simms is planning to build 31 units at Patterson Place, an approximately $5 million project, to consist of several buildings.
2. Student Suites
45 S. Ludlow St.
Cox Media Group Ohio (the owner of this newspaper) announced April 10, an $18 million project to convert the former Dayton Daily News building and certain other surrounding properties into a 200-unit apartment complex for Sinclair Community College student housing.
Cox Media Group Ohio said it plans to sell the property to nonprofit United Housing and Community Services Corp. of California, which would partner with Missouri-based Student Suites.
Plans call for 150 two-bedroom and 50 one-bedroom apartments. The timetable is for a fall 2014 opening.
3. Sixth Street Lofts
207 E. Sixth St.
Oberer Thompson and Sixth Street LLC are nearly finished renovating the former Excelsior Laundry building, turning it into a 17-condominium building with enclosed parking, scheduled to open by the end of summer. The $3 million project is in the city’s Oregon District.
4. Lux-Lofts Apartments
115 E. Third St.
Excel Realty Group hopes to turn the David Building into 110 apartments. The project was awarded a $3.3 million Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit and they are applying for additional funding from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Excel President Peter Jobson says if all applications are approved, he hopes to begin work on the $15.3 million project later in 2013.
5. Water Street Redevelopment LLC
North of Monument Avenue, east of Patterson Boulevard
City commission approved July 10 a pre-development agreement with Columbus-area company Crawford Hoying to build a $36 million mixed residential-office-retail project on a vacant Dayton riverfront property just north of the Dayton Dragons ballpark.
Phase 1 plans call for construction of a 50,000-square-foot Class A office building with a restaurant, 161 apartment units and a 320-space parking garage north of Monument Avenue and east of Patterson Boulevard.
If all goes well, the city would execute a purchase agreement with developer Water Street Redevelopment, and construction could begin in spring 2014, targeting completion in fall 2015.